After VoltAero announced the maiden flight of a prototype of its hybrid-electric aircraft study in March, the French start-up is now following up with the specifications of the final variants. Now VoltAero is offering three versions of the hybrid aircraft called Cassio.
VoltAero is pushing a tight schedule: The Cassio models are to be produced in a specially built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France and delivered as early as the end of 2022. Three hybrid variants are being developed: The four-seater Cassio 330, the six-seater Cassio 480 and the ten-seater Cassio 600, whereby the numbers in the model designations each describe the power output in kilowatts. Although purely electric versions should also follow, the initial focus is being put on hybrids.
A prototype of the Cassio aircraft recently made its maiden flight. A characteristic feature of the aircraft is a fuselage-mounted hybrid drive system with a pusher propeller. The propulsion solution developed in-house integrates a cluster of electric motors with a high-performance internal combustion engine that serves as a range extender, according to the French startup. VoltAero also cites performance data: the propulsion system allows a flight time of 3.5 hours, a range of 800 miles (almost 1,300 km) and a speed of 200 knots (around 370 km/h). The company estimates the required take-off and landing distance at less than 1,800 feet (about 550 meters). The take-off weight is not to exceed 2.5 tons in view of the intended European certification according to EADA CS23. VoltAero does not specify which of the three aircraft variants this performance data applies to.
Visually, the Cassio is distinguished by a slender, capsule-shaped fuselage and four wings – two small ones at the head and two large ones at the fuselage. A striking feature is a tailplane attached to the fuselage with twin outriggers. “The unveiling of the Cassio production design represents the latest step in our realistic and highly pragmatic creation of a completely new family of aircraft,” says company boss Jean Botti, who added that the manufacturer is approaching the production phase. A possible license production could take place in North America and Asia.
With regard to the first deliveries planned for the end of 2022, VoltAero specifies that it will start with the four-seater version of the Cassio 330. The company is targeting sales to private owners, air taxi and charter companies and operators of commercial short-haul flights.
Incidentally, before VoltAero was founded, company boss Jean Botti was director of Airbus’ now discontinued e-fan program. The successor project called E-Fan X was recently terminated. The aim was to equip a 100-seat regional aircraft with a hybrid-electric drive train for the first time by this year.
With reporting by Cora Werwitzke, France
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